Water is the defining



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group



element here. From Rangitīkei through Manawatū and onto Horowhenua, it is integral to the rivers, lakes and wetlands and the unbroken line of beach that curves in a westward crescent to the north. The whenua, whether the hills of white clay (papa) cleaved and crumpled by the Rangitīkei River, or the productive flats near Himatangi, is home to a distracting string of small settlements proud of their history and heritage and keen to entertain passers-by. With numerous bric-a-brac stores on this section of SH1, leaving space in the car for treasures is strongly advised, as is making time to stop if there are young travelers onboard. There are many opportunities to let off pent-up steam and, if food is required, Horowhenua’s market garden stalls are the go. They feed most of the lower North Island. In short, there’s a long list of enticements to tempt travelers to set a course for this unsung part of the country, or at the very least to take time to explore what’s happening just a mere block back from the highway. But top of anyone’s list should be getting out on the water; whether rafting on the Rangitīkei, exploring the internationally important Manawatū Estuary (see page 68) or paddling in the long shallows of the Tasman Sea.